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Around the Ring: Andre Ward Added to Cotto-Canelo Card

Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez - (Reed Saxon, AP)
Photo Courtesy of AP

The Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez card just got a little more interesting, as if necessary. Andre Ward will now be the co-feature on the Nov. 21 show from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.

AP-Photo

AP-Photo

The WBA super middleweight champion Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) is rumored to be facing No. 5 WBC ranked Alexander Brand (24-1, 19 KOs).

The Nevada State Athletic Commission initially rejected the 38-year-old Brand as Ward’s opponent, but eventually switched their position.

Ward had been linked to Cedric Agnew, a fighter that Sergey Kovalev finished in the seventh round last March, however, Ward reportedly didn’t want him as an opponent because he wanted a fighter that fights out of the orthodox stance that could help him get ready for his eventual title shot against Kovalev at light heavyweight.

Brand, who comes from Colombia, has a seven-fight winning streak dating back to July 2012. Brand’s lone loss was to WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack by an eight-round split decision in May 2012.

Since that loss, Brand has been carefully matched and not gotten close to fighting anyone good enough to give him any real problems. His last four wins have come against little known fighters Bernard Dontack, Rey Recio, Wilmer Mejia, and Jorge Rodriguez Olivera.

Ward defeated Paul Smith by ninth-round knockout in his last fight in June in a catch-weight at 172 pounds. It was Ward’s first fight in 18 months.

The rumblings over the last few months have been about Ward wanting a shot at the light heavyweight kingpin Kovalev, and it seems as if they wheels are turning on this potential mega-fight.

The proposed plan would be for both fighters to have two more fights before eventually meeting in the fall of 2016. Kovalev is scheduled for a rematch with Jean Pascal in January. Kovalev has also had on again, off again negotiations with fellow light heavyweight titleholder Adonis Stevenson, who could possibly both still square off in the spring.

Ward has recently signed a new three fight contract with HBO, and will presumably be more active against better competition during this deal.

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

The other thought for Ward would be a chance to battle Gennady Golovkin in 2016. Ward, being at 168 pounds, is caught in the middle of two pound-for-pound champions in Golovkin (160) and Kovalev (175). There could be a chance of a drop down in weight for Ward to face GGG, but it doesn’t seem likely. The more likely scenario would be Ward wanting Golovkin to move up.

It’s all but certain for the Cotto-Canelo winner to challenge Golovkin for the undisputed middleweight crown, with that fight most likely to happen in the spring or early summer of 2016. If Golovkin is victorious in that unification bout, he would have no choice but to move up in weight after running through the 160 pound division.

GGG has the power and natural size to compete at 168, but may be hesitant to jump right into a fight with the top 168 pounder in Ward. He would most likely have a tune-up with a fringe contender to test the waters of super middleweight.

Photo Courtesy of AP

Photo Courtesy of AP

As for Kovalev, he is firmly locked in at 175 and this seems like a more realistic showdown with Ward already moving up to 172 pounds in his last fight. The risk with planning fights 2-3 bouts in advance though, is that if you lose one of those contests, it most likely ends the opportunity for the mega-fights to ever happen.

One of these fights absolutely needs to happen. Ward, now 31, knows that his inactivity has paved the way for fighters like GGG and Kovalev to garner the pound-for-pound fame that Ward has also enjoyed. Having a chance to challenge and possibly beat one of these champions would quickly remind boxing fans of how great a fighter Andre Ward truly is.

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